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Trails groomed, ready for snowmobilers, skiers

Staff Writer

SUN photo/Ed Fincher
A couple of snowshoe enthusiasts study the new trailhead signage recently installed by the Town Tourism Committee at the Spa parking lot for Reservoir Hill. At a recent meeting of the Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Commision, board member Mike Musgrove expressed concerns that the maps are inaccurate. “Nobody knows what trails are what,” he complained. “I was going mountain biking a couple of weeks ago and there was a guy standing there scratching his head.”

Winter has set in, and many Pagosans and visitors have taken to the slopes.

However, not everyone prefers chairlifts at a designated ski area. Some don’t desire the thrill of speeding downhill, but prefer meandering through the snowy woods and forests.

“In general, the Pagosa Nordic Club’s mission is to provide additional winter recreation through trail grooming and winter events,” James Dickhoff, of the Pagosa Nordic Club, said.

That additional winter recreation includes cross country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

Since the recent big dump of snow and a drop in temperatures to preserve the snow cover, three Pagosa entities have been grooming various areas to make winter recreation activities available.

The Pagosa Ranger District, the Pagosa Nordic Club and the Wolf Creek Trailblazers jointly share the responsibility of grooming trails to ensure that when a winter storm comes through the area, people can get out their gear, whether snowshoes or snowmobile, and have some fun.

This last week, just in time for the Christmas season, the Pagosa Ranger District finished grooming the Coyote Hill cross country ski trails.

“All the trails are looking great,” Dickhoff said.

Dennis Mingo, with the Wolf Creek Trailblazers , explained that the Trailblazers have four drivers who groom the trails.

“We’ve got one machine that we all use,” Mingo said, adding that the organization does not have a formal schedule for who is grooming on what days.

“It’s just whoever can do it when it needs to be done,” Mingo said.

According to the updated trail report on Pagosa Nordic Club’s website, which was updated Christmas Day, the following trails have been groomed: 15 kilometers of Coyote Hill on Dec. 21; 12 km of West Fork on Dec. 20; 10 km of Alberta Lake on Dec. 24; 1 km of Yamaguchi on Dec. 19; Turkey Springs on Dec. 18; East Monument on Dec. 18; 5 mi of East Fork on Dec. 21; Newt Jack on Dec. 20; 6 km of Pagosa Springs Golf Course on Dec. 24; and Wolf Creek Road on Dec. 19.

According to the Colorado Snowmobile Association’s website, updated by the Wolf Creek Trailblazers, the following trails have been groomed: Four Mile Road on Dec. 16; Nipple Mountain Road on Dec. 15; Plumtaw on Dec. 16; Porcupine on Dec. 15.

When Mingo was out grooming trails last Friday, he said that he saw plenty of people out taking advantage of the snow for winter recreation.

“I saw two snowmobilers, five cross country skiers, one guy on snowshoes and two ladies hiking with a dog. I was kind of surprised to see so many people out,” Mingo said, then added, “The trails that we groom are available to anyone who wants to use them — snowshoers, hikers, dog-walkers, anybody and everybody.”

While enjoying the winter weather and the snow, people should take the proper precautions, especially when snowmobiling.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends following the basic snowmobile code, which includes:

• Be sure your snowmobile is in top-notch mechanical condition at the beginning of the winter and throughout the season.

• Read the snowmobile manual to familiarize yourself with the snowmobile you are driving.

• Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling.

• Use a full-size helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips and other flying debris.

• Do not wear long scarves.

• Know the terrain you are going to ride, and don’t travel on unfamiliar ground at night.

• Know the weather forecast along with the ice and snow condition of the area.

• Always use the buddy system. Never ride alone.

• Do not pursue domestic or wild animals. If you see a violation of this rule, report it to the nearest law enforcement officer.

• Have a proper lighting system on the snowmobile.

• Be familiar with the thickness of the ice and the water currents, as drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities.

• Don’t remove the factory-installed air box or muffler to install a noisier one. This will lessen the performance of your vehicle.

• Carry a flashlight or flare for emergency signaling.

• Never blaze a new trail at night.

• Use caution when riding in freezing rain because your goggles may freeze over.

For the latest information on grooming status of trails go to pagosanordic.com or snowmobilecolo.com, click on the Trail maps/reports and then click on Pagosa Springs.

lindsey@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on December 27, 2012.